- Series: Greek and Latin Language
- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Bristol Classical Press; Reprint edition (April 24, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0715627589
- ISBN-13: 978-0715627587
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #381,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Learn Ancient Greek (Greek and Latin Language) Reprint Edition
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About the Author
Peter Jones, co-founder of the Friends of Classics, is one of the best-known figures in the teaching and appreciation of the Classics, a regular contributor to national newspapers and the author of many books and articles, including, in the same series, Learn Latin.
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Top customer reviews
The good: It's a pretty gentle introduction, many other similar books I've looked at are more eager to hurl the student into the deep end. The book does not require previous knowledge of Latin, as some texts do. Jones supplies the answers to all of his exercises, so it is more appropriate for self-teaching than other books.
The bad: Jones cuts some corners with the language to make it easier on the student. He also doesn't provide detailed explanations as to what's going on with the underpinnings of the language. For example, he doesn't explain how "middle" verbs are situated between active and passive forms, which I think would promote understanding. Also, some of the translations early in the book rely so heavily on vocabulary and forms not yet learned that they're not all that useful. This gets a bit better as the book progresses, but even at the end of the book the reader isn't equipped with everything they need to attack confidently most new testament passages and certainly not for most of the classics.
The indifferent: As other reviewers have pointed out, some of the author's jokes are a bit ribald. I'd rate them as PG-13. If you're looking for a text to teach a ten year old, I could understand wanting to find a different text, but for anyone in the mid-teens, if they can't handle Jones' jokes, they need to get out more. Another reviewer was disappointed that Jones didn't provide translations of the biblical passages, but there are plenty of free sources online that will serve just fine. Jones doesn't explain the literary convention of accenting classic Greek. Can a Greek student manage without this knowledge? Yes. Except in specific cases which Jones points out, you can mostly get along fine without them. However, for various reasons accents are considered to be an integral part of classic Greek, so truly serious students will probably feel like they have a gap in their knowledge that needs to be filled.
So, this is a decent, fairly gentle introduction to classic Greek that is suitable for self-learning. It's not sufficient to get to the point where the learner is really translating significant Greek passages, and such a student will have gaps, but it can be a reasonable starting point before students learning on their own transition to a more rigorous second beginning text.
The short chapters are broken up into various sections such as: Presenting a verb form, irregularity, vocabulary, exercises and then a brief overview of some culture pertaining to Ancient Greece in addition to some quirky comic image. To make it even better once you get roughly half way through the author picks parts of plays, historical texts and more for you to translate with what you know.
Unlike some other language-learning materials out there, there's answers at the back of every chapter so even though you should try your best to not look at them until you think you're nearly or completely correct, you are never left scratching your head wondering if your right or totally off.
The author's sense of humor and thoughtful layout make this probably the absolute best option out there for Beginner-low intermediate Greek. The only bad thing is you have to go to someone else afterwards!
Jones does a remarkable job in getting readers comfortable and confident with Greek, translating simple passages by the end of Chapter Two. His humor is a bit dry, but the lessons are solid and build off each other very well. A CD is offered for those who are concerned with pronunciation (I am only interested in reading Greek, but its nice to have it offered).
With that said, I would not recommend this book to those who have no experience with language - Greek gets complicated (as Jones points out relatively early on; to his credit, the exceptions to the rules and the grammar itself are very well explained). While Jones provides some clarification of what grammar is (with humor, thankfully) and how it works, I can't imagine getting further than the first few chapters without prior language experience to draw upon. Hence the four stars.
For autodidacts, Hellenophiles, or those seeking to fill gaps in their education, I highly recommend this book. By the end of the book you will be translating excerpts from Homer and the Bible, and have an excellent foundation for further formal study.